Regional updates: Middle East and North Africa

What were the main digital policy regional updates in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region? This space brings you the main updates month by month, summarised by the observatory's curators.

Follow the GIP's February 2020 briefing on Internet governance, which will include updates from the MENA region during February 2020. Register to attend.

January 2020

Curated by Hanane Boujemi

Jeff Bezos phone hack linked to Saudi Arabian crown prince

24 Jan 2020 |  Cybercrime

International media widely reported this week that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos received an unexpected text message over WhatsApp from Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2018 which appears to have included a malware.

Details provided by the UN suggest that the malware originated from a private vendor, such as Israel’s NSO Group or the Italian Hacking Team. UN Special Rapporteurs David Kaye and Agnes Callamard have condemned the incident and issued a statement expressing their concerns that ‘this reported surveillance of Mr Bezos, allegedly through software developed and marketed by a private company and transferred to a government without judicial control of its use, is, if true, a concrete example of the harms that result from the unconstrained marketing, sale, and use of spyware’.

Dubai free zone to set up world's largest crypto ecosystem

24 Jan 2020 |  Blockchain

The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) has announced a partnership with CV VC and CV Labs to launch Crypto Valley, the world's largest ecosystem for cryptographic, blockchain, and distributed ledger technologies.

The agreement was signed on the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos, and the two entities plan to develop the crypto ecosystem in the Jumeirah Lakes Towers, where over 17 000 companies are currently registered.

Designed to foster growth, collaboration, and integrity across the global blockchain economy, the DMCC Crypto Valley will offer a variety of services including incubation for early-stage start-ups, co-working facilities, innovation services for corporate clients, blockchain and entrepreneurship training, education, events, mentoring, and funding.

5th edition of the Arab IGF takes place in Cairo

22 Jan 2020 |  Capacity development

The 5th Arab Internet Governance Forum (ArabIGF-V) took place in Cairo on 22-23 January 2020. It was organised by ESCWA and the League of Arab States, in co-operation with the National Telecom Regulatory Authority of Egypt – the Arab IGF Secretariat since 2012, and was hosted by the Arab Administrative Development Organization (ARADO) at its premises in Heliopolis.

ArabIGF-V aimed to strengthen dialogue and co-operation on Internet governance amongst all stakeholders in the Arab region, including governments, the private sector, civil society, academics, the technical community, and regional and international organisations. It covered topics of priority and issues related to Internet policies in the region.

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